One of the most widely viewed news stories for the Christian Reformed Church (CRC) in 2012 had to do with Synod 2012’s decision involving the pastor of a church in Canada.
That story outranked other stories by a substantial margin. But it was the exception rather than the rule.
A much broader picture emerges when we look through the more than quarter-million page views that CRC News and The Network generated over the past 12 months.
Then, we can see the full range of what drew people to click on stories and other materials published in CRC Communications’ weekly electronic newsletters.
Besides Synod 2012’s action regarding the Canadian pastor, the denomination’s annual general meeting debated and came up with several decisions of interest.
These included the decision to adopt a report on creation care, in which synod acknowledged that climate change is a real and serious challenge for Christians and the church.
Another story chronicles synod’s decision to accept the Belhar Confession as an Ecumenical Faith Declaration, a new category that does not place the Belhar on the same level with the Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, or the Canons of Dort.
The Belhar lays out a biblically based confession, written more than a decade ago in South Africa, that opposes racism.
Other stories reflected the presentations, breakout sessions and times of worship that took place at the CRC’s first Prayer Summit in April.
Prayer was also the topic of other stories. When a drought hit the U.S. Midwestern breadbasket last summer, the denomination called for prayer.
And as social unrest escalated into violence in Nigeria, the CRC also called for prayer.
Calvin Theological Seminary’s move to offer an online Master of Divinity degree was also in the news last year, as well as stories about Mark Charles, a CRC member and member of the Navajo Nation, who went to Washington, D.C., to read an apology to Native Americans that the U.S. Congress buried in the middle of an appropriations bill.
Also, a number of stories detailed ongoing and multi-faceted efforts on the part of the CRC and the Reformed Church in America (RCA) to undertake ministry together -- in some cases planting churches and in other instances finding ways to keep established ministries vital.
Meanwhile, the CRC’s immigration education effort called “Church Between Borders” began holding presentations in churches and The Salaam Project, the CRC’s ministry to Muslims, also visited churches and held sessions.
New Webinar Series
Beginning January 2012 CRC Communications held a series of ministry-related webinars on a range of topics, from children at the Lord’s table to how churches can better use the Internet for ministry. The recordings are now available 24-7 in the webinar archives and can be used in church meetings, for small group discussions and/or for training.
Among the topics featured on The Network were: “How to Record Sermons Digitally,” “Children's Christmas Programs: Five Things To Remember,” “How to Start Using Google Apps,” and “Whatever Happened to Family/Household Visits?”
Network blogs looked at such subjects as support groups for pastors who have used pornography, whether the CRC is facing a confessional crisis, online giving at churches, and the impact of views on evolution and creationism.
In some cases, news stories dovetailed with blogs, such as in the case of the church’s response to soldiers suffering from “moral injury,” a new mental health category established by the U.S. military that applies especially to soldiers who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan and returned home plagued by things they did and saw there.
It was a year that included the naming of new presidents at Calvin College and Dordt College, the installation of a new director of Back to God Ministries International and the search for a new executive director for the Christian Reformed Church in North America.
It also was a year in which the director of Canadian Ministries stepped down and an interim director was appointed. There was also a new Canadian director for Christian Reformed World Missions and a new Canadian coordinator in the Office of Race Relations.
As Always, Ministry
Top of the list for many readers were the stories of outreach.
Some of these stories looked at assistance provided in the aftermath of hurricanes Isaac and Sandy, the wreckage from tornadoes in Missouri and in the wake of many disasters, from floods to typhoons, around the world.
New For 2013
Some stories looked ahead to this year. Planning has started for the 2013 Prayer Summit, for another cross-country bicycle/fundraising tour, and for a gathering in March whose focus will be on praying with power from the Holy Spirit.
Stories last year also discussed the plan to publish a new hymnal in June 2013 to be used by the CRC and the RCA.
And one of the big stories for us in 2012: the design and launch of a new denominational website.